WAKE UP DUCK FANS! WE HAVE SPORTS TODAY!
Well…kinda. After a long hiatus without sports, we are now within hours of the NFL Draft where some of our favorite Ducks are about to become a WHOLE lot richer. By my estimation Oregon has seven players with the potential to be drafted: Justin Herbert, Troy Dye, Calvin Throckmorton, Shane Lemieux, Jake Hanson, Juwan Johnson and Jacob Breeland. However, there is only one expected to be picked today, that of course is QB1, Eugene’s Justin Herbert.
If you have been following any mock drafts or reading articles about Herbert’s potential landing spots, then you would know that the Miami Dolphins (pick 5) and Los Angeles Chargers (pick 6) seem to be the likeliest landing spots for the 6-foot 6-inch signal caller.
Early on in the process, all reports out of the Dolphins camp were that they were “zeroing in” on Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Meanwhile, the Chargers interest in Herbert grew gradually from the Senior Bowl to the NFL Scouting Combine and on. However, as time went on, concerns regarding Tagovailoa’s hip and lower leg injuries grew, while Herbert’s off-season performance only elevated his draft stock.
The “Long Shots”
Despite the overwhelming majority of “experts” believing Herbert will not fall past the Chargers at six, there are still a few teams with an outside shot at drafting QB1. Specifically, the Jacksonville Jaguars (picks 9 and 20) and New England Patriots (pick 23) have also been linked to him and reportedly have “strong interest” in Herbert. More recently, the Giants (pick 4) have been rumored to have interest in Herbert.
In Will Brinson’s most recent mock draft for CBS Sports he had the Jaguars trading up with the Carolina Panthers to pick seven, where they draft Herbert. In Steve Palazzolo’s mock draft for Pro Football Focus, he too had Herbert landing with the Jaguars, yet falling all the way to the 20th pick. Other mock drafts have the Patriots trading up with the Atlanta Falcons and taking Herbert with the 16th pick.
Concerns about Herbert’s accuracy coupled with the depth in the 2020 quarterback class could cause him to fall in the first round. However, with the number of quarterback-hungry teams at the top of the draft, I can’t see a situation in which Herbert falls past the Chargers at six. With that being said, let’s take a deeper dive into our two “favorites”.
The “Rebuilding” Dolphins
Although the Dolphins have many holes to fill on their roster, none are bigger than their need for a “franchise” quarterback. With Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals a near certainty, the question is who will be the next quarterback to fall off the board? With the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions and New York Giants all seeming to have their franchise quarterback, the Dolphins look poised to be the next team to draft a quarterback.
Albert Breer of NFL Network wrote that he has yet to “talk to anyone who believes the Dolphins are drafting Tagovailoa.” If you see this as a guarantee of the Dolphins drafting Herbert, however, then you are not too familiar with the NFL Draft, where deception, especially on the eve of the draft, is the norm. For all we know, the Dolphins’ “high appraisal” of Herbert is a smokescreen intended to cloud their intention of drafting Tagovailoa.
Another hypothetical is the Dolphins using their 5th pick to draft a defensive stud such as Clemson’s Isiah Simmons or Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah and then targeting a quarterback at 18 or 26, likely Utah State’s Jordan Love.
If Herbert were to be drafted by the Dolphins, he would spend at least part of the year sitting behind and learning from long-time veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Although the Dolphins still have many positions of need, they are stacked with assets in the upcoming years, with a league high 14 picks this year, including three in the first round and two in the second. Combined with their recent, high-profile free agent signings and remaining cap space, the Dolphins have one of the brightest futures in the NFL and, with Tom Brady gone from New England, an opportunity to take control of their division for the first time in two decades.
The “West Coast” Chargers
The Chargers are positioned just behind the Dolphins at the six spot. But if the Chargers do love Herbert like reports suggest, they may need to trade up ahead of Miami in order to assure they get “their guy.”
After moving on from Philip Rivers (now with the Colts) in February, the Chargers are looking to go in a new direction. Their projected starter is Tyrod Taylor, but following their failed run at Tom Brady, the Bolts have been rumored to have interest in free agent Cam Newton. In any event, as with the Dolphins, Herbert would likely spend part or all of the 2020 season observing and learning behind a veteran starter. The Chargers are also not lacking in receiving weapons, with wideouts Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, tight end Hunter Henry and all-purpose back Austin Ekeler.
My intuition tells me Herbert goes to either the Dolphins or Chargers. I do not think any team has the draft capital to move up to where Herbert likely will be drafted. And the Giants at four already have their franchise quarterback in Daniel Jones.
Reports of the Dolphins losing interest in Tagovailoa is all smoke. Miami trades up with the Lions to draft Tagovailoa at three. If the Chargers do in fact “love” Herbert, they preempt the loss of Herbert to the Giants or Dolphins by trading with the Giants and taking Herbert at four.
After Herbert is selected, it may be awhile before other Ducks’ names are called. Senior linebacker Troy Dye will likely be a day two pick in either the second or third round. Mock drafts have the other Duck hopefuls going anywhere between round four to going undrafted. With the ambiguity surrounding COVID-19, late-round picks and undrafted free agents will be more important than ever this year. Even if your favorite Duck goes undrafted, he could still have a long, successful NFL career.
Let’s hear your thoughts, and if you’re right I will announce it in the comment section below: Where do you think Herbert will land?
Top Photo Credit: Tom Corno
Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.
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